Caroline Stephens Milner
Associate | Kirkland & Ellis
What made you decide to apply for a clerkship for SCOTUS?
I thought I had a chance, albeit a small one, and I wanted to give it my best shot. I knew I would regret it if I did not at least try. I remember when I first learned in high school that Supreme Court justices had clerks, and I thought that sounded like the coolest job for a young lawyer. It is surreal that I will now have the chance to do that job and especially the chance to work for Justice Thomas.
What are you most looking forward to during the clerkship?
I am most looking forward to helping Justice Thomas do his job and having the opportunity to learn from him. Justice Thomas is inspirational to me both in his jurisprudence and in his life story.
I am also looking forward to listening to the oral arguments. Getting to see how lawyers present their arguments in cases you are helping with is an exciting part of any clerkship.
How did your time at Bass, Berry & Sims prepare you for your role?
At Bass, Berry & Sims, I had the opportunity to work with lawyers who taught me to leave no stone unturned. That drive to be prepared and to look at a problem from every angle is something I always strive to have. They also encouraged me to run down every thought I had, even if it might lead to a dead-end. That encouragement to be curious is an invaluable skill I try to keep sharp.
More than teaching me skills, my time at the firm gave me the chance to see how great lawyers can also be great people. I saw lawyers who litigated their cases fiercely but did so with grace and respect. They also reminded me that, at the end of the day, being a lawyer is just a job, and it is important to get outside the legal bubble and be involved in the community around you. Those are lessons I have taken with me and hope not to forget.
What is your favorite book & why?
I can never pick a favorite, but one book that I always come back to is A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. It follows a Russian count who has been sentenced to house arrest in a grand hotel in Moscow by the newly formed Bolshevik government. The count must now navigate his new life in the hotel as the aftermath of the Bolshevik Revolution plays out right outside the hotel’s doors. It has everything I love in a book—interesting characters, a little history, a little humor, and an intriguing setting.
Where would you most like to live?
Nashville, Tennessee! I miss the small-town feel of the city, the food, and of course the live music at every turn—although I do not miss getting stuck behind a pedal tavern when in a rush to be somewhere! I miss the people the most, and we are always happy to have the chance to see Nashville friends.